Books by Ellen Sussman

Ellen Sussman pays homage to the beloved City of Lights in her second novel French Lessons, a literary tour through the arrondissements that explores how traveling and learning a language can change both our selves and our lives. Spanning the course of a single day in Paris, the book follows a trio of Americans as they traverse the streets—each with a French tutor in tow. Sussman brilliantly evokes the melancholy of Josie, a high school French teacher mourning the loss of her lover; the chaos that encompasses Riley, an ex-pat with two kids and a crumbling marriage; and the temptation of Jeremy, who is killing time while his wife, an international movie star, logs long days on set. Much is discovered in Sussman’s pages—not just the overlooked corners of Paris itself but her characters’ unexplored inner lives. Here, the creative-writing teacher weighs in on her time in Paris, her lackluster French skills and why she loves writing sex scenes.

Released: March 26, 2013

"A respectful and earnest but far from edgy treatment of devastation's aftermath."
Two damaged people reach tentatively toward healing after the 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali. Read full book review >
FRENCH LESSONS by Ellen Sussman
Released: July 12, 2011

Three attractive French tutors guide each of their American charges through an unforgettable day in Paris.

Meeting regularly at a café before work, colleagues Chantal, Philippe and Nico teach private language sessions and have what might be described as a complex (or just French) relationship. Chantal has slept with both men, although she considers Philippe—in spite of all evidence to the contrary—to be her boyfriend. She also finds herself drawn to her client Jeremy, the carpenter husband of famous movie star Dana Hurley, who is shooting a film in town. On their last day together, the two of them wander the streets, get stuck in a rainstorm and share an easy camaraderie that gives them both pause. Jeremy is happily married, but Chantal's low-key allure offers him a seductive glimpse of a life away from Dana's fame. Pining for Chantal, Nico is assigned Josie Felton, a pretty young teacher from San Francisco. Still reeling from the sudden death of her much older (and married) lover, Josie cannot help but be delighted with the puppy-like Nico, who takes her shopping, flirts up a storm and tries to convince her to run away with him to Provence. But is it too soon? Sexy wannabe musician Philippe, meanwhile, meets up with the voluptuous Riley, a lonely expatriate mom whose animosity toward Paris is rivaled only by her disdain for her husband Vic. Lacking the confidence or ability to actually learn the language, Riley nonetheless makes a bold overture to Philippe, who responds with an enthusiasm that makes her rethink that whole hating-Paris thing. In spite of some overly familiar scenarios (Chantal's flower-festooned houseboat picnic, Philippe's hot bedroom antics), Sussman's (On a Night Like This, 2004, etc.) breezy entry into the holiday-romance genre has a lot going for it and benefits greatly by giving the locals their point-of-view, too.

Pleasantly evocative escape to the City of Love. Read full book review >
BAD GIRLS by Ellen Sussman
Released: July 1, 2007

"First-rate execution by top-notch talent saves a shaky premise."
Grasping-at-straws anthology compiled by California novelist Sussman (On a Night Like This, 2004). Read full book review >
ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS by Ellen Sussman
Released: Feb. 10, 2004

"Good sex scenes in an otherwise run-of -the-mill pseudo-literary romance."
Dying woman finds true love before it's too late—in a so-so debut. Read full book review >